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Is “Slow Selling” the Best Approach for Today’s Customer? Our Brain Squad Weighs In

One says that if it is, he might as well fire his salespeople and hire clerks from Walmart.




  • Slow selling isn’t a new idea. We used to call it lazy selling. — Bill Elliott, Ross Elliott Jewelers, Terre Haute, IN
  • Always been my way. I don’t like pressure (car sales) and will leave, so why do it? They’ll hate you in the morning. — Todd R. Tinder, Tinder’s Jewelry, Bowling Green, VA
  • We use an aggressive/passive approach. This means we train our staff to be attentive to the customer’s needs and to ask for the sale. If the customer objects or has reasons not to move forward, we try to remove the objection and close again. Learned a long time ago, if you don’t ask for the sale, rarely does the customer buy in the first visit. — William Johnson, Willams Diamond Center, Mankato, MN
  • It depends upon the shopper. My under-22-year-old staff members sometimes behave this way with shoppers. We lose sales when they do. Some shoppers like to be pointed in the right direction, and some like to touch and try on jewelry instead of just looking through glass. — Mark Goodman, Goodman Jewelers of Abingdon, Abingdon, VA
  • They don’t want to be prodded into buying, but they want to be able to find what they are seeking. Staff should greet them and ask if they are looking for a specific type of item. If they are, inform them where it is and ensure they know the staff member is available to answer any questions. Then leave the customer alone. — Gary Richmond, Van Horne & Co., Granger, IN
  • I don’t like to feel pressured when shopping, and I respect my customers to do the same for them. If they say, “just looking,” I let them know we’ll be happy to show them something when they are ready and they are free to try on anything they would like to. — Cindy Fuller, Fuller Designs, Poplar Bluff, MO
  • I always let the customer come in and look around a little before I engage with them, but I do like to make a comment on the particular item they’re looking at, and begin a friendly conversation. I think people need to be “sold,” but I don’t think they need or want to be sold. (I know I don’t.) — Janne Etz, Contemporary Concepts, Cocoa, FL
  • You need to know your clientele. Most men like guidance. Most women want to look, try on, then either buy for themselves or just play. — Judy Stanley, Skippack Jewelers, Harleysville, PA
  • I disagree with it. Every once in a while, there is a consumer who truly just wants to “wander.” But I believe it’s important to point out to everyone who walks through the door, whether they be our best client who we see every week or someone brand new, certain things. For example: If it’s a brand new client, give them a basic layout of the store and then leave them be. If it’s a regular client, show them the newest thing we’re excited about. Selling is about telling a story! Not about cramming something down someone’s throat. If we do our job well, we fulfill a desire and a need by sparking interest. It’s a lost art. — Valerie Naifeh, Naifeh Fine Jewelry, Oklahoma City, OK
  • Each of our prospects are touched by a minimum of two sales associates before they leave (we have to buzz them out of our store). — David Abrams, Grand Jewelers, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
  • Unrealistic to run a retail jewelry store that has 80-90 percent of its merchandise under lock and key. Should we hand them the piece of fine jewelry and just stand back and not say a word? Seems strange, but maybe the new way? — Greg Tidwell, Bell Jewelers, Murfreesboro, TN
  • Been doing that for 40 years. We are in a laid-back area of the country. I hate when someone pushes me. In the past, when we sold to men by pushing the sale, it usually ended up being returned. Now I am not saying to not help the customer, but you need to use the soft-sell approach. After you greet them, the customer will let you know if they are interested in an item either verbally or with body language, then you do your show-and-tell, but let them think it is their idea to purchase, not your desperation to make a sale. — Ed Menk, E.L. Menk Jewelers, Brainerd, MN
  • You have to get merchandise into their hands somehow, whatever system you use. — Christine Matlack, E.G. Landis Jewelers, Boyertown, PA
  • I have always believed that if they want something, they will purchase it. We can help them, but ultimately they have to think that the decision is 100 percent theirs. — David Mann Cyrkin, David Mann Jewelers, Geneseo, NY
  • If you are not talking, you are not selling!! — Tom Boatright, Diamonds & More Jewelers, Farmington, MO
  • Millennials seem to want to be left alone until they “ask” for help. — J. Dennis Petimezas, Watchmakers Diamonds & Jewelry, Johnstown, PA
  • I think there has to be some gentle prodding. In particular, people enjoy talking about themselves, so get personal! One of my useful questions is to tell someone: “You look interesting. What do you do?” — Eve J. Alfille, Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio, Evanston, IL
  • The notion of “driving sales,” as if our customers were sheep, is ridiculous. Our clients are smart and discerning. We put our energy into superb products. That is what makes sales happen. — Steven Wardle, Forest Beach Design, Chatham, MA
  • If that is the wise thing to do, fire the salespeople and replace them with cashiers from Walmart. — James Adair, Adair Jewelers, Missoula, MT
  • That’s bullS%@^ … sorry … we are in a small town of less than 250,000, and we do over $5 million and have for over five years. No slow “take your time, we don’t want to bother you” crap. That’s so lame. — Alan Perry, Perry’s Emporium, Wilmington, NC
  • The younger generation customers don’t talk too much and just want facts, and the older generation clients enjoy having conversation and taking their time. — James Stinson, Diamond Classics, McMinnville, TN
  • That’s pretty much always been my approach. I think the used-car-salesman approach is antiquated. However, I also have an all-millenial staff, and they don’t come from a culture of customer service where customers are given a lot of attention. It’s a struggle to get these staffers to sell anything — Especially in the very rare occasions when I am not present when the store is open. — Andrea Riso, Talisman Collection, El Dorado Hills, CA
  • We practice slow selling. All our jewelry is price-tagged, so the customer can see. We greet customers, then let them look around. When the shopper lingers at a spot or looks up for help, we are there to help. Yes, young people are very pressure averse. — Donald Killelea, Killelea Jewelers, Midlothian, IL
  • We have never prodded customers into buying. In most instances, to our detriment, we talk people down in price points and sell mostly everyday wear necklaces, rings and earrings. High-end, high-cost, super dressy items have never been our specialty. We do sell some beautiful pieces regularly, but mostly custom after a lot of back and forth with CAD design and time spent with the client. Not a lot of easy business anymore. — Eric Ohanian, Leon Ohanian & Sons, Boston, MA
  • I think giving people a chance to look around is good, but do not ignore them. Be ready to get something in their hands as soon as you can without making them feel rushed. It takes timing and paying attention to what they are doing as they look. I will often say, “It’s more fun to try things on while you’re looking.” Very often, it breaks the ice to get them to open up to letting you know what they want. — John Hayes, Goodman’s Jewelers, Madison, WI
  • I personally like to browse first, so I don’t mind when a client needs time to look without hovering. Many times, I will encourage them to browse and let them know I will check back in with them in a few minutes. I recently closed an $11,000 sale by giving the client space and time. She said she needed to think about it, so I told her to take as much time as she needed. The process took a couple of weeks. She mentioned that she had felt overwhelmed at a Jared as three salespeople were pressuring her, and she ultimately chose to work with us. — Julie Terwilliger, Wexford Jewelers, Cadillac, MI
  • We market ourselves as “Personal Custom Jewelers,” with an emphasis on personal service. I cannot imagine a setting where we do not initiate contact and communication with our clients. Our goal is to bring positive energy to all aspects … we don’t push sales, but we are more than a “clerk” ringing up an item. We sell, we create relationships and we offer an atmosphere that is geared toward our clients’ next visits. In short, we are happy that we have customers walking through our doors and understand that without them, we have no paycheck at the end of the day! They are valued and we do our best to make sure they understand this. — Erika Godfrey, Hawthorne Jewelry, Kearney, NE
  • In retail and when dealing with the public, no one course of action meets all needs. There are just too many variables. Slow selling can work for some types of customers if you can identify them properly, but I think it will result in more missed opportunities than sales in the long run for jewelers. Independent jewelers are in the service business, and merchandise is under glass, creating the need to show it, unlike other retailers that can allow customers to saunter through their aisles of merchandise and browse. At Diamond Jewelers, we believe our business is built on building relationships, so we want to be on the floor to engage the customer to learn as much as we can about them. This also gives us a chance to tell them something about us. Selling is still an art when done correctly. — Robert Borneman, Diamond Jewelers, Centereach, NY
  • Boring … slow selling? Who has the time for that? Customers are greeted with “What brings you in today?” Immediately, they identify what their purpose is and we go about fulfilling or resolving the prime directive. Our shop is busy. “New age” shoppers come to us for the same reason everyone else does: They need friendly professional advice and a non-condescending education on whatever facet of my profession they are seeking. I often explain, “If I give you the proper information you need, you can make the best decision based on your past experience, our product and pricing, and the knowledge that your eyes don’t lie to you.” Trust, integrity and the ability to satisfy their inquiries speak volumes to millennials. Sell what they want, and you have earned a repeat customer. Sell what you want, and you’ve increased your bottom line but shortened your lifeline. — Denise Oros, Linnea Jewelers, La Grange, IL

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.



When the Kids Have Their Own Careers, Wilkerson Can Help You to Retire

Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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